Demand spikes for couples’ counselling

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

COUPLES need to invest as much time in their relationships as they do in their jobs, the president of ACCORD, the Catholic marriage care service, has said.

COUPLES need to invest as much time in their relationships as they do in their jobs, the president of ACCORD, the Catholic marriage care service, has said.

As demand has spiked for marriage counselling services, financial worries and over-use of the internet is putting a great strain on relationships, the service said.

New figures released by ACCORD show an eight per cent increase in demand by couples for the agency’s marriage counselling service during 2010, or a 20 per cent increase since 2008.

The increase coincides with a decrease in the number of couples taking premarital courses.

A report for the south-west region, which includes Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Kerry, saw over 800 counselling cases were reported last year – at least a 20 per cent increase on the previous year.

The agency has 60 centres across the country, two of which are in Limerick – in Corbally and Newcastle West.

“The economic recession has exercised enormous pressure on marriages and families,” said Bishop Christopher Jones, president of ACCORD.

“Tragically too many people had put all their trust and energy in the job, the house and money as they took their relationships for granted. They had little or no time for their relationship with God or with each other.

“We must help our marriages and families discover that their happiness is rooted not in material things but in their relationships. They must invest as much time in their relationships as they do in their job, their house or their hobbies. Their greatest joy will come from their relationships and of course their greatest pain and suffering comes not from the loss of job or things but from broken betrayed relationships,” said Bishop Jones.

Some 43,627 hours in marriage counselling were provided by ACCORD counsellors last year, which is the highest figure on record.

Communication difficulties between married couples continue to be the primary concern, along with financial problems and couples’ overuse of the internet and other technology, especially mobile phones.

ACCORD has identified internet misuse as the fastest growing area of concern in marriages, increasing by 20 per cent in 2010 and by 125 per cent since they began to compile statistics on internet misuse in marriages in 2007.

Since 2008 they have recorded a year-on-year decrease in the demand by couples for marriage preparation, with 16,317 hours being provided in 2010.

This decrease also reflects a reduction in the numbers of couples getting married.